THE LONDON DECLARATION
Patients for Patient Safety
WHO World Alliance for Patient Safety
We, Patients for Patient Safety, envision a different world in which healthcare errors are not harming people. We are partners in the effort to prevent all avoidable harm in healthcare. Risk and uncertainty are constant companions. So we come together in dialogue, participating in care with providers. We unite our strength as advocates for care without harm in the developing as well as the developed world.
We are committed to spread the word from person to person, town to town, country to country. There is a right to safe healthcare and we will not let the current culture of error and denial, continue. We call for honesty, openness and transparency. We will make the reduction of healthcare errors a basic human right that preserves life around the world.
We, Patients for Patient Safety, will be the voice for all people, but especially those who are now unheard. Together as partners, we will collaborate in:
Devising and promoting programs for patient safety and patient empowerment.
Developing and driving a constructive dialogue with all partners concerned with patient safety.
Establishing systems for reporting and dealing with healthcare harm on a worldwide basis.
Defining best practices in dealing with healthcare harm of all kinds and promoting those practices throughout the world.
In honor of those who have died, those left disabled, our loved ones today and the world's children yet to be born, we will strive for excellence, so that all involved in healthcare are as safe as possible as soon as possible. This is our pledge of partnership.
January 17, 2006
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WHO Takes Aim at Reducing Medical Mistakes
World Health Organization Launches Initiative Aimed at Reducing Medical Mistakes
The Associated Press
Oct. 27, 2004 - Citing statistics that one in 10 hospital patients are victims of preventable medical mistakes, the World Health Organization on Wednesday announced an initiative to create a "culture of safety" in health care.
"Improved health care is perhaps humanity's greatest achievement of the last 100 years," WHO Director-General Dr. Lee Jong-wook said. "Improving patient safety in clinics and hospitals is in many cases the best way there is to protect the advances we have made in health care."
The initiative, the World Alliance for Patient Safety, will bring together governments, civil society organizations, scientists and researchers to develop and share strategies for reducing medical mistakes. Among the major partners are the United States, Britain and Australia.
The WHO cited figures from studies that said 10 percent of hospital patients in the world's industrialized countries suffer from medical mistakes, which can lead to serious disability or even death.
In the United States, a study by the federal Institute of Medicine estimated in 1999 that 44,000 to 98,000 hospital deaths annually are caused by "medical errors" claiming more lives than car accidents, breast cancer or AIDs.
The medical error rate is suspected to be even higher in the developing world, according to James Palmer, a WHO spokesman. Under-equipped hospitals, second-rate medications, a lack of technology and poor hygiene are major factors.
"Human error is inevitable," said Sir Liam Donaldson, chief medical officer of the British Department of Health and chairman of the WHO coalition on patient safety, By raising awareness of the issue, Donaldson said, "We can reduce error, but most importantly, we can reduce its impact." One-fourth of all medical errors are caused by medication mistakes, he said. The causes can range from sloppy note taking especially doctors' illegible handwriting to different medications that come in deceptively similar packaging. Patients may be given too high or too low a dose, the wrong medication, or no medication when one is needed.
Electronic health records can reduce the errors associated with paperwork, but is too costly for many countries and health providers. For now, the WHO will focus on creating a clear and consistent set of medical terminology, symbols, and principles to cut down on translation errors.
Blaming individuals is not the solution, Donaldson said. Doctors or hospital staff who recognize that they made a critical mistake in treating a patient might not report their failure for fear of lawsuits or losing their jobs. Instead, hospitals should foster a culture in which mistakes are admitted and studied so they are not repeated again.
Susan Sheridan, of Eagle, Ohio, said two members of her family were victims of medical errors.
In 1995, her five-day-old son, Cal, suffered brain damage when doctors did not detect his jaundice early enough to treat it.
Cal, now 9, has cerebral palsy and uses a walker to get around. Four years later, doctors lost the lab results showing that a tumor removed from her husband's neck was cancerous. The couple found out six months later that the cancer had spread. Pat Sheridan died in 2002 at age 45.
"The system either didn't want to hear from me or didn't know how to hear from me," Sheridan said. She said the health care providers her family most trusted turned out to be "a system without a center" in which "no one was accountable."
She founded Consumers Advancing Public Safety to give victims of medical mistakes a voice. Now her group is working with the WHO to encourage patients to be proactive and to include them in research to reduce medical errors.
Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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